Progressive Web App - the future of application development or a passing trend?

The mobile-first trend is nothing new in today’s world. The use of mobile devices is increasing and people are more likely to make a purchase through their phones than a couple of years ago. This pushes companies towards new solutions that would allow them to provide a seamless experience to their potential customers.

For the last few years, the IT world started to pay more attention to mobile device users as the statistics show that the website traffic from phones is increasing. In 2018 52,2% of site visits came from mobile devices in comparison to 50,3% in the previous year. Not only that but search engines also shifted their focus from desktop to mobile devices furthering the trend. This creates the necessity for companies to adapt to new requirements from both users and search engines.

What exactly is a Progressive Web App?

Although Progressive Web App (PWA) is not a new concept, it found its popularity at the beginning of 2018 when the whole mobile-first trend started to take off. At that time companies were looking for different solutions to reach mobile device users. Most websites by that time were created following the responsive web design practices but businesses needed something that would give their potential clients native experience when using their phones. The PWA was the answer.

Progressive Web App is a type of application software that behaves like a native mobile app but is build using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The PWA is intended to be opened with the browser so there is no need to adapt the app to mobile operating systems. Although, it loads like a regular website it offers more functionalities that usually apply only to the native apps. 

Characteristics of a PWA

Every web app has to meet the following guidelines to be classified as a Progressive Web App:

Progressive — Works for every user no matter the browser used.

Responsive — Suits every device: desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.

Connectivity independent — Can be used offline or on low-quality networks.

App-like — Looks and feels like a native app.

Fresh — Is regularly updated with the help of a service worker.

Safe — Runs under HTTPS protocol that ensures the safety of the content and users’ data.

Discoverable — Is classified as an application and can be found by search engines.

Re-engageable — Sends push notifications to keep users engaged.

Installable — Allows users to “install” the app to the home screen without the use of an app store.

Linkable — Can be easily shared via a URL.

Besides that, there are three main technical requirements that PWA has to comply with.

  1. It must implement a service worker.

A service worker is a JavaScript file that is responsible for features that do not require interaction with users like push notifications and data cashing. It is thanks to service workers that the PWA can run offline and when the internet connection is poor. The script makes sure the app works smoothly regardless of circumstances and provides users the experience of native apps.

  1. It must include a web app manifest.

The web app manifest is a JSON file that contains the information needed for the PWA to be “installed” on the user’s device (i.a. app’s name, icon, URL to display, splash screen). That file is crucial for the application to appear to users more like a native app alongside others.

  1. It must run under HTTPS.

HTTPS is a protocol that ensures the security of the network and the proper function of a service worker. It allows the data to be transferred between the server and web pages making it protected from attacks. 

Why do you need a Progressive Web App?

The most important advantage of PWA is that it takes a lot of useful features from a website and a native app and combines them into one. Like a site, the PWA has a URL that allows it to be indexed by the search engine increasing the chances of users finding the app. Because the PWA is not technically an app it can’t be listed in app stores so the search engine is one of few places where users can discover it. Besides that, PWA, thanks to the service worker, is loading much faster than a regular website which positively affects the app’s position in search results.

On the other hand, users see the PWA like a native mobile app. Although the research says that users are less willing to install apps from app stores, they spend most of their time using the mobile device on apps rather than browsing the web. PWA doesn’t take much space on the device and the home screen icon always reminds the user about the company behind the web app. Furthermore, the service worker allows sending push notifications to drive the engagement and present to users the important information like sales or special offers. Like the native app, the PWA has access to the device’s hardware giving the opportunity to use the camera, microphone, accelerometer or GPS.

In addition to this, the PWA doesn’t have to be developed specifically for a certain mobile OS. Because it opens with the browser it can be used on every device as long as the browser supports the PWA technology. This helps to save money and time on creating single web app because Android and IOS, the two biggest players on the market, require two completely different native apps. By developing a PWA you can make sure that it will work on all devices thus increasing the number of potential users. In the long run, it also will open the door for companies that build their devices on other systems than Android and IOS and now are falling way behind with their app game.


The popularity of Progressive Web Apps is growing from year to year and with such big companies behind it like Microsoft and Google, the trend won’t probably go anywhere soon. Some even go as far as to say that the Progressive Web Apps are the future of app development. As more and more browsers are starting to support PWAs they become the better solution when it comes to reaching the mobile device users and giving them a fine experience.

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